I get asked this question a lot. The length of time it takes to get a decision in a Social Security disability case depends on several factors. The time period varies year to year as the total number of disability cases under review changes each year. The time period varies from state to state and office to office. Further, the type of disability case you have can affect how long it takes to review it. Some cases are more complicated than others.

Based on my experience, the average time period to get a decision in a Social Security disability case in North Carolina is as follows.

1. The Application. 4 – 6 months.

2. The 1st Appeal – a Request for Reconsideration. 1 – 12 months.

3. The 2nd Appeal – a Request for Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. The answer varies according to which Office of Disability Adjudication & Review (ODAR) your case is assigned to. As of today, January 23, 2015, this is my experience with the following ODARs:

Raleigh, NC ODAR: 18 months.
Greensboro, NC ODAR: 19 – 26 months.

4. Getting the Judge’s Decision. 1 – 5 months. In most cases the Judge does not make a decision on the day of the hearing. It usually takes 2 – 3 months to receive the Judge’s decision in the mail. I have had a few cases in which my client waited 8 months to get the decision.

Without question, applying for Social Security disability benefits is a very long process. The slowness of the process is a source of great frustration to my clients. I have had a few cases where my client was awarded benefits reasonably quickly. However, in the vast majority of my cases the time periods are as I have described.